Be yourself: Santa’s message for a boy with autism

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GRANDVILLE, Mich. – A magical moment caught on camera when Santa Clause empathized with a child with autism  worried his disability would put him on the ‘naughty list’. What the man in red did next is warming hearts across the country.

Naomi Johnson posted the story and picture to the Facebook page of RiverTown Crossings in Grandville, thanking them for everything they did to make this a special Christmas for her 6-year-old son, Landon Johnson. The picture was taken just a few days ago but really started making the rounds online in the past 24 hours. It shows Santa comforting Landon after talking about his disability. Naomi Johnson said Landon is a silly, fun-loving little boy who loves Santa Claus. It was something Kris Kringle wasn’t expecting to hear that day but led to a memorable experience for everyone involved.

“Santa took his hands and Landon was really, really excited,” said Johson. “And he took his hands, this is all I saw was just him massaging his hands.”

Comforting the little boy after he said he was worried his autism may have put him on the ‘naughty list’. Santa told the little boy, ‘It’s okay to be yourself’. Naomi put the picture of Santa and Landon on Facebook to thank the mall. Once it was posted it quickly spread nationwide though out cyberspace.

The post received praise from half-way around the world, thanking Naomi for the encouragement her photo has given families like hers, spreading holiday cheer and the magic of Christmas to everyone.

“There’s actually that magic still there,” said Johnson. “That’s what everyone wants this year is that magic.”

The boy, identified in the post as "L," talked to Santa and then went back to tell him his story of being autistic and getting into trouble at school. Santa listened to the boy and gave him some encouragement.

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